Interview: Nick Garcia
Nick Garcia is a rising producer and DJ talent from Washington DC. He also heads up the legendary Yoshitoshi Recordings and has just released his latest three-track EP, ‘Aalto’, on Lifted Contingency.
We sat down with Nick to talk about where it all began, running a legendary label, find out his key tunes at the moment and delve into his studio setup and mastering skills.
“…it was the product of a desire to create stuff that was different and unique”
How are you, and how’s your summer been so far?
I’m awesome, thanks for having me. I’m very excited to share this new EP with the world. Summer has been nice, I’m lining up some releases for the fall right now and doing my best to enjoy D.C.’s absurd humidity.
You’ve just released your latest record the Aalto EP on Lifted Contingency, a darker, more techno sound than much of your previous material. Tell us about the sound you’re creating right now and releasing on Lifted Contingency?
I’ve always been interested in harsh, more experimental music. I also have a tendency to find inspiration in really random things. For example, my Fenix EP was inspired by William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer. The Aalto EP is inspired by the Aalto synthesizer from Madrona Labs, which I used to make most of the sounds on the EP with. It’s also kind of inspired by chaos theory. Like, you can go crazy making these extremely complex and weird sounds, but then when you start to analyze and deconstruct them patterns naturally emerge, and then those can turn into rhythms and melodies.
What’s your studio setup like — are you a gear-head or are you someone who works within your means, keeping it straightforward to achieve the best results?
I guess I’m somewhere in the middle? I mean I love gear; figuring out how it works, tweaking it with no end result in mind, coming up with the most insane thing I can and then figuring out what to do with it. However I’m also also very minimalistic when it comes to my setup – I try to get the most out of the best few things that I know. I’ve never gone into unmanageable debt acquiring new machines, I prefer to get something new every once in awhile and learn it inside and out. My main squeeze right now is the Mother 32, that little thing is an absolute beast. I love running it through guitar pedals.
You appeared to have a producing/release hiatus from 2015 to March this year (your Night Vision Music EP). Can you tell us more about this period?
Well, if you look up my name on Spotify or Apple Music, you’ll get quite a few hits from like 2010 – 2013. A few records called “House on the Horizon,” “Just Talkin,” “To The Beat,” – that Nick Garcia is not me actually, I didn’t really start putting out proper releases until 2014 on Dubco, and then my first EP for Night Vision in 2015. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get his tunes off my profiles haha. But yeah, I definitely went through an exploratory period between my first and second EP’s for Night Vision, the Edmonton label that I consider my home. Partly it was the product of a desire to create stuff that was different and unique, and it took time to develop methods to do that. I didn’t want to put out stuff that everyone else was making and it took some soul-searching to figure out how to differentiate myself sonically.
What was your route/inspiration into music; production, djing, working in the industry? Delete areas/add areas as appropriate to your journey.
You know like a lot of kids I got started playing instruments, I was very serious about guitar and studied jazz heavily for a long time. But I’ve always loved dance music. One of my earliest musical memories is sitting in front of MTV’s video blocks waiting for something by Daft Punk or Crystal Method to play. I was probably 9 or 10 and it was the coolest thing to me. Kids today will never know that feeling, waiting for what feels like an eternity just to hear a song. Anyway, eventually I started making music with computers, and that lead to DJing, and that lead to going out and finding a scene where I made a bunch of great friends and I eventually found my way into working in the industry. It might sound cliché but it’s all just been a product of my unequivocal love for music.
You manage the legendary Yoshitoshi, can you tell us little more about your role, how you got involved and how, if anything significant, has changed about the industry during your time there?
I got started as an intern, like most people do in this world. I was doing some engineering work for Sharam and helping where I could with the label. Eventually that transitioned to a full time role and after a year or so I took over as label manager. Not a particularly interesting story but it is what it is.
I think the move from sales to streaming is the biggest change we’re dealing with. We’re going in with open arms and doing everything we can to boost our presence on Spotify. It’s really become the go-to tool for music discovery and I think the industry just has to accept that and roll with it the best that they can.
How have things changed musically for the label and how do you keep on top of it? For example. keeping ahead of the curve, ensuring longevity/relevance
We’ve never thought too much about what we think people will want, and we’ve never been tied down to a specific sound. You can go back to the late 90’s and look at the Yoshitoshi catalogue and Sharam and Ali were releasing tech house records next to deep house and progressive records, though every release found its niche and did well. I’ve tried to continue that tradition. In the short term it can be a self-imposed challenge because people like to be able to put you in a box. But in the long term it’s what has allowed us to stay relevant for so long. We don’t ride fads and as a result we never go out of style.
If you haven’t covered this topic in a previous answer – You’re also a mastering engineer, which must be a benefit to your label management duties, or do you keep these two areas of your career separate?
I definitely don’t keep them separate. I master everything for Yoshitoshi now, it ensures consistency and helps us meet our deadlines faster. It’s also helped me gain new clients in the freelance sphere and I’ve developed some great working relationships with many artists that I’ve met through the label. It’s a win-win really.
As a DJ, can you tell us what’s in your bag/always getting spun at the moment?
Depeche Mode – Going Backwards (The Belleville Three Raw Detroit Dub)
Yaeji – Feel It Out (Nick Godmode Remix)
Pattern Drama & Jon Lee – Messenjah
Tom Demac – Sink or Swim
Foli Jackson – XOXO
Maya Jane Coles – Chasing Sunshine
Pretty much anything by Afriqua.
The next release on Night Vision is a heater too – Daily & Trevor Oslo’s Love Tonight. It’s out 8 September, definitely be on the lookout for that one!
Where’s your favourite place to play out?
U Street Music Hall. In my opinion that place is the beating heart of the DC scene. The sound, the crowd, and the staff are always spot on.
What’s next for you — after this, this week, the month, the year?
Yoshitoshi is in the middle of a massive album cycle for Sharam so that will keep me busy until October, but I’m still finding time to get in the studio. Foli Jackson and I have a collaboration coming out via PUZL records on 15 September, and I have an official remix for Will Eastman dropping soon. Lots of original music in the works as well, stay tuned. 🙂
The latest offering from Nick is NOW AVAILABLE on Lifted Contingency BUY